Ernesto Valverde believes Barcelona will be playing at “our most difficult ground” when they face Real Sociedad at Anoeta on Sunday.
Barca have not won at Anoeta since 2007, while La Real’s stadium famously saw Lionel Messi dropped by Luis Enrique prior to a 1-0 win for the Basques under David Moyes in January 2015.
“This is our most difficult ground to go to because of the history,” the Coach said at a Press conference.
“Finishing the first round of the season with a good taste in our mouths is a challenge, although we’ll do it at our most difficult ground.
“We haven’t talked about it during the week, but we’re aware of the precedents. Anoeta is a complicated place, where the ball runs a lot on the deck.
“Everyone has a hard time winning there. It’s normal that there are places where we don’t know why we can’t win.
“No win since 2007? It’s in the past. Now we have to write the future. La Real? They’re in that congested part of the team, where they can fall if they go on a bad run but move close to the European places with a couple of win.
“We all know their potential: they’re a great team, who are able to win with combinations and high pressure.
“They’re especially intense when they play against Barcelona. Espanyol in the Copa del Rey? We never like to face opponents who we’ll play against in the League soon.
“Espanyol have a better team than the table says, and they play better football than the table says.
“Andre Gomes? He’s an extraordinary player, who gives us many things and has helped the team in several positions. He’s versatile and we’re counting on him.
“Dembele? I don’t see him holding much back in games. He went on a long solo run in our last match.
“After that, I talked to him. He was fine and trained normally on Friday. Exits? I’m delighted with the players in our squad.
“When I was at Athletic, that Athletic team were the best in the world. Now at Barca, I also think that they’re the best in the world.
“I’m satisfied with the progress my team have made. We’re happy with how things are going, but that doesn’t mean anything about the future.
“Ultimately, everything still has to be decided. It’s not a bad thing to be winter champions, but what matters is what happens at the end of the season.”